Year Built Est. 2019
Developer Westbank Projects
Architect Bjarke Ingels Group
Interior Designer Bjarke Ingels Group
Total number of residences 375
Vancouver House is a much anticipated and ambitious development that’ll lead the formation of a new urban village, the Beach District. Imagined by the international superstar design firm, Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), the award-winning development is comprised of a landmark tower with luxury condos rising above podiums with rental housing, retail, offices, and a thriving public realm.
The spark ignited when a leading Vancouver architect, James K.M. Cheng, suggested to Ian Gillespie, Founder of Westbank, that he retain BIG for their first Canadian commission to gain a fresh perspective. Their boldness was rewarded with a remarkable development that:
- answers complex site constraints with a beautiful building form new to Vancouver.
- provides residents with a contemporary lifestyle that capitalizes on the painstaking focus expended on each interior design detail.
- creates a new Beach District modelled after Granville Island, complete with restaurants, cafes, a grocery store, a pharmacy, courtyards, and special event space.
- is a new benchmark for sustainability in Vancouver, including being only the second neighbourhood-based LEED designation in Vancouver (Olympic Village was the first).
At 515 feet, it’ll be the fifth tallest tower in Vancouver until adjusting to sixth position once Burrard Place One tops out. Vancouver House’s dominant presence is purposeful to visually frame the gateway to downtown via the Granville Bridge. Another tall tower, planned for the 600 block of Beach Crescent, will complete the frame.
The design of the Vancouver House development was made complex by the Granville Bridge and its ramps dividing the site into 3 triangular parcels. The designers elegantly inserted the following components within the buildable footprint:
- Tower – The tower houses the 375 condos and has 52 actual levels plus rooftop decks for the penthouses. Floor numbering reaches 59 as it skips floors 4, 13, 14, 24, 34, 44, and 54. The tower’s façade is intended to illustrate the Gesamtkunstwerk (Total Design) theme with each condo representing a pixel contributing to the overall building form.
- Tower podium – The main podium is attached to and reflects the architecture of the tower and contains the 95 rental homes, amenities, as well as retail space.
- Two detached podiums – These podiums are found between the main bridge and ramps and have angular glass façades and green roofs. Both podiums contain retail and office space and public courtyards.
- Public realm – The project exemplifies community building with courtyards connected by pathways and a large space under the bridge deck that can be closed to traffic for events such as markets, film screenings, and performances. The light boxes to be mounted to the underside of the bridge and the spinning chandelier serve to both showcase local artists and improve the ambience under the bridge.
“Think of our building as a giant curtain, at the moment of being pulled back to reveal the world to Vancouver and Vancouver to the world.”
Bjarke Ingles, Founder of BIG
BIG dedicated much creative energy into overcoming and, ultimately, employing the site constraints to realize a unique development. They accounted for relatively modest setbacks from the sidewalk and to avoid shading May & Lorne Brown Park past mid morning. The building form is most influenced by the 30m setback, both horizontal and vertical, required from the bridge.
Collectively, the setbacks restricted the tower to an approximately 6000 sqft triangular development base. The triangular form was maintained skyward until the 30m vertical setback from the bridge was achieved, then the floors step out approximately 1 foot per floor until the building floorplate becomes a rectangle.
VIDEO: Bjarke Ingles, Founder of BIG, reviews the design of Vancouver House.
Residences range from studios to expansive 4 bedroom homes. The developer disclosure statement indicated the composition of the 375 residences to be:
- 51 studio and one bedroom flex homes (X to X sqft on floors X to X)
- 113 one bedroom homes (X to X sqft on floors X to X)
- 149 two bedroom homes (X to X sqft on floors X to X)
- 52 three bedroom homes (X to X sqft on floors X to X)
- 2 four bedroom homes (X to X sqft on floors X to X)
- 8 penthouse homes (X to X sqft on floors X to X)
Condos begin on floor 2 and are divided between the Architect Series on floors 2-46 and the Estates Series being the top of the building, namely floors 47-59. The Estate Series generally have larger floorplans and enhanced features. There are 9 two level penthouses (developer floors 58 and 59), each with a rooftop deck.
Highlights of the Architect Series specifications:
- large outdoor spaces nearly twice that typically allowed in Vancouver
- buyers could select a white or grey colour pallete
- engineered flooring in staggered pattern
- European matte-laminate cabinets and Corian countertops in kitchens
- luxury kitchen appliances including Miele
- kitchen islands, where included, reflect the form of the exterior façade
- bathrooms have a European white matte-laminate vanity and white quartz countertop
- travertine tile flooring and wet areas in bathrooms
DOCUMENT: Vancouver House – Estates Brochure
Highlights of the Estates Series specifications:
- generously sized floorplans
- expansive outdoor spaces
- rich oak wood flooring options in herringbone pattern
- Boffi kitchens with a sleek modern aesthetic
- kitchen island, where included, is sculptured to reflect the building façade
- Miele luxury kitchen appliances
- Kohler bathrooms
- marble in bathrooms
DOCUMENT: Vancouver House – Penthouse Brochure
The penthouses are within the Estate Series, however, as owners were offered the ability to completely customize the space, it’s likely some took the opportunity to alter floorplans and/or features. Penthouses were offered with a private 2 car garage, and customized Fazioli piano.
Gesamtkunstwerk – Westbank introduced the concept of “Total Design’ to Vancouver via an exhibit and salon series on the development site ahead of pre-sales. This was an exciting and novel way to simultaneously introduce Vancouver House and expand people’s understanding and appreciation of our city.
The Gesamtkunstwerk concept, careful attention to each component within the development and how it complements its surroundings, was successfully applied to Vancouver House through:
- considering every detail of the resident experience within their homes and common areas of the building
- transforming a complex and under-performing site into a thriving and connected community for all Vancouverites
- adding a landmark tower to the Vancouver skyline and maturing the tower and podium building typology
- adding to the apartment rental stock in downtown Vancouver
- enhanced sustainability, including tying the project into a community energy source
- the innovative exhibit and salon series
Parking – there were projected to be 7 levels of parking, with the 421 residential parking stalls on levels 2 through 7. This includes approximately 54 privates garages with 2 stalls each. They projected approximately 100 of the parking stalls would be tandem, meaning the car at the back must be moved to allow the front car ingress and egress.
Lockers – they planned to have 387 standard storage lockers and approximately 64 large cellar storage lockers. I believe the number of cellars, each approximately 200 sqft and able to be used as wine cellars, has decreased.
Management of the Strata Corporation – The condos, rental apartments, and commercial spaces will be managed separately. As common in such arrangements, there will be agreements between the different components detailing the use and maintenance of common elements such as the parkade. While good to understand, this will likely only become important if you serve on your Strata Council.
Public art – Careful attention was also extended to the public art component. Light boxes affixed to the underside of the bridge will both showcase local artists and illuminate the public domain. A large chandelier will also be mounted under the bridge and will wind upwards over 24 hours and release once a day to its original position. The aptly named “Spinning Chandelier” is the creation of local artist, Rodney Graham.
Sustainability – Vancouver House will be only the second LEED neighbourhood designation in Vancouver, following the Olympic Village. This is accomplished through numerous factors, including:
- triple paned windows and vacuum-insulated composite wall panels.
- the east and west facing balconies assist with temperature control by providing shade during the summer and allowing in sun during the winter (based on the aspect of the sun).
- being connected to the Creative Energy infrastructure to gain low carbon energy.
- green roofs on the detached podiums.
Tower and podium typology evolution – around the early 1990s, Vancouver city planners and architects were exploring more livable building designs. James Cheng answered the challenge by modifying the tower and podium building typology to be purely residential and activating the street by inserting townhomes into the podium. Based on the success of the first project at 888 Beach Avenue, the typology was encouraged by City planners until becoming commonplace and is now known internationally as ‘Vancouverism’.
Vancouver House is a significant design by maturing the tower and podium building typology through:
- creating a thriving urban neighbourhood with public courtyards and pathways.
- improving the aesthetic of the development by, instead of mirroring the design of the tower, designing the detached podiums in complementary fashion.
The designs are easy to study as, by chance, both developments are located at Beach and Howe.
World Housing – A Vancouver-based organization launched in 2014, World Housing’s mandate is to improve the lives of some of the estimated 120 million people living in garbage dumps. They partner with organizations in developing nations to construct homes for those living in some of the worst conditions. As of September 2018, World Housing had housed 2840 people in Cambodia, Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Westbank recognized the social goals of World Housing mirrored their own and committed Vancouver House to be their first major partner. Westbank’s participation had a profound benefit and, as of October 2017, Westbank had funded the construction of 375 homes in Cambodia, each attributed to a particular home in Vancouver House. Read more about World Housing and Westbank’s program.
What’s with the small building at Howe and Beach? – the owner declined to sell so the design worked around the site.
Vancouver House awards – the Vancouver House development received the following awards:
- 2012 – World Architecture News (WAN) Awards, Residential Sector Winner, Future Schemes
- 2014 – Rethinking the Future Awards, 1st Place Mixed Use Concept
- 2015 – Future Project of The Year, World Architecture Festival 2015
- 2015 – Canadian Architect Award of Excellence
Westbank Corp. – Westbank noted it has assumed Gesamtkunstwerk for its practice appears to be more than word smithing. To have adopted the total design vision for their practice. Not just empty words but a logical step in their city building.
BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group – founded in Copenhagen and since expanded to include studios in New York and London, the practice is a collective team of 500 design professionals. Given they are currently a hot international design firm, they have the awards including…
international projects Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East have included… Without doubt, their most fun design project was the Lego House in Billund, Denmark, the birthplace of Lego.
BIG’s involvement was realized in part by a local design firm. James K.M. Cheng began evaluating what could be achieved on the site and suggested Westbank seek a fresh perspective for the design. Then entered BIG.
I see their European style in the box-like exterior of the building along with is evident in some of their other designs such as X and X. The angular and repetitive grid form exterior is reminiscent of their other designs.
PFS Studio – while you may not have heard of them before, you have likely appreciated their work. The designers have realized the landscape design for many buildings in Downtown, particularly those of design significance. 888 Beach, the Coal Harbour public realm, Vancouver House public realm, The Alberni – Japanese aesthetic, including a unique moss garden.
Through their work, they understand the overall design and how the particular project fits within the fabric of the neighourhood and when unique design elements are appropriate to further our downtown environment.
This neighbourhood is undergoing a profound transformation with Vancouver House, a new development across Granville Bridge to complete its gateway, plus the redevelopment of the Granville Loops.
The City is establishing pronounced focal points for those entering the downtown peninsula. Burrard Place One will command the view for those crossing the Burrard Bridge and Vancouver House and the tower planned for the 600 block of Beach Crescent will frame the route over the Granville Bridge. Pinnacle International will be constructing the Beach Crescent building and isn’t associated with Vancouver House.
RENDERING: Vancouver House along with a new tower at 601 Beach Crescent will frame the crossing into downtown via the Granville Street bridge. (Source: Pinnacle International)
Across Pacific Street from Vancouver House will see another major project with the removal and redevelopment of the Granville Loops. Details of that major development can be read here.
Vancouver House includes an extensive public realm and restaurants, cafes, services, courtyards, and events… will all be at your doorstep. With its function defined, the question became how to make the underneath of a bridge a welcoming environment. The partial solution was to angle the glass façades of the two detached podiums to direct ambient light under the bridge. Light will also be added via the art light boxes planned for the underside of the bridge structure.
Interestingly, PFS Studio Landscape designed the landscaping for 888 Beach, the first tower and podium project in Vancouver, and they are designing the public realm for Vancouver House, the maturation of that typology.
VIDEO: PFS Studio Landscape Architects discuss plans for the public realm of the development. (Source: Westbank)
RENDERING: Public realm under the bridge showing the art light boxes and angled façades of the detached podiums. (Source: BIG)
You can walk to the following amenities from your doorstep in under 5 minutes:
- Retail and services in the podium of Vancouver House (future)
- Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio
- Tartine Bread & Pies
- George Wainborn Park
- Little Beach YMCA Child Care
- Longtable Distillery
- Retail and services once the Granville Loops are redeveloped (future)
From Vancouver House, you can walk to the following amenities in 5-10 minutes:
- Meinhardt (to be built within Burrard Place at Hornby and Drake Streets)
- Choices Market
- Giardino Restaurant
- Bin 941 Tapas Parlour
- Shoppers Drug Mart
- Musette Cafe
- TAPshack – Burrard Bridge
- Vancouver Aquatic Centre
- Roundhouse Community Centre
- Sunset Beach Park
- David Lam Park
- Emery Barnes Park
- Marquis Wine Cellars
This representation is based in whole or in part on data generated by the Chilliwack & District Real Estate Board, Fraser Valley Real Estate Board or Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. Copyright 2018 by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board, and BC Northern Real Estate Board. All Rights Reserved.